Struggling theatre mounts turnaround |

Struggling theatre mounts turnaround

As Foothill Theatre Company prepares to open its new season Friday, executive director Karen Marinovich is confident a turnaround is under way for the 32-year-old company.

Foothill Theatre had fallen on hard times with dwindling sales and a high turnover among administrators, but the situation is changing for the better, according to a letter the troupe sent out to its donors this month.

“In the first half of 2007, there were moments when some of us at Foothill Theatre wondered whether a 2008 season would even happen,” the letter said. “And then we asked you, our patrons and supporters, to help. You did.”

Since July 2007, the company has paid off a $110,000 debt, made up a $300,000 projected budget deficit and put about $10,000 in the bank by the end of the year, the letter said.

Success from the company’s past three plays from the previous season and a matching donor campaign in July raised $60,000 – fueling a financial turnaround, Marinovich said Wednesday.

The company is now on a new track, more in tune with the community, said Marinovich, who was named executive director in August after Brantley Dunaway resigned.

“The process that Foothill Theatre Company is going through this year would not be considered rebuilding, but reconfiguring and realigning our programs and season,” Marinovich said. “The whole idea this year is for Foothill Theatre to reconnect with the community as a whole, not by asking for things but by giving.

“One of my goals this year is to have the community see and utilize Foothill Theatre as a resource,” Marinovich added. “It’s more than putting on great theater; it’s helping our business partners.”

The partnering has resulted in the downtown merchants backing the opening night of the new season in a way they never have before, Marinovich said.

On opening night Friday of “Urinetown, the Musical,” ticketholders will receive special treatment at some restaurants and businesses in downtown Nevada City, including a special dinner menu, discounts and faster service.

Foothill Theatre also is focusing on producing the kind of plays community members want to see.

The company assessed the taste of local theater-goers through surveys last year, Marinovich said.

Musicals and comedies topped the list of preferences, she added. “Urinetown” is a musical comedy with a political bite.

As part of the changes the company has gone through, two new members have joined the board – Lowell Robertson as president and Bill Neff as vice president.

“Lowell has a very strong business and marketing background, while Neff has a background in business and human resources,” Marinovich said. “With the addition of two members, we have a strong board moving ahead.”

Marinovich was hired by Foothill Theatre Company in April 2007 as the assistant to the director.


To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail or call 477-4229.

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